(TUT) Your Average Customers

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Offline Bullethead

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(TUT) Your Average Customers
« on: March 27, 2017, 08:13 PM »
A while back, I did a bunch of research on peep demographics and behaviors but published it in the official forums, before I knew of this place.  Since then, I've found out a few more things so decided to post a revised and condensed version here for them as find such things interesting.  While it's true that at present PC's various management components could use a balance pass or 3, I expect a lot of this info to remain true, and become more relevant, as that happens.

1.  Peep Spawns and Park Potential Income
Peeps spawn at a high rate until the park reaches capacity.  This is either its "natural" capacity, which is a function of park rating, or some lower number arbitrarily set by the user for performance reasons.  Once the park is filled to capacity, peeps only spawn when previously existing peeps leave the park.

This has an important implication:  For a park in a given configuration, when running at its capacity, its maximum potential monthly income is defined by (# of new peep spawns entering the park / month ) * ($ / peep).  This is because very few peeps will ever use an ATM so for the most part, the only money you can get is what peeps bring in with them.  Thus, the only way to increase maximum potential income is to increase park capacity, either by upping the setting if you've set it low, or building more stuff to increase its "natural" capacity.  The more peeps are in the park, the more will be leaving per unit time, so the more new peeps can carry in more money.

2.  Peep Demographic Ratios
The relative amounts of adult, teen, and family groups in the park, and thus the relative frequencies at which these demographics spawn, is determined by 2 things.  #1 is the relative number of rides that are attractive to one demographic as opposed to another.  IOW, if you have an even mix for all, you will have an even mix of demographics, and vice versa.  This is the "natural" demographic mix, based on what's in the park.  #2 is marketing campaigns aimed at specific demographics, which are "unnatural" and generally a bad idea.  The reason you don't have as many of, say, families as you'd like is because you don't have enough family-oriented stuff.  Marketing won't fix that basic problem.  It will bring in more families but they won't find enough in the park to make them happy, so they'll get mad and leave with money still in their pockets, and by being in the park they keep out some adults and teens that your park is more suited to.

3.  Demographic Statistics
NOTE 1:  For the raw data (in Excel format) on which this section is based, see https://www.dropbox.com/s/he6vbjqany...0112.xlsx?dl=0

Each demographic comes in groups of various sizes, has its own average amount of money per peep in the group, and also has minimum and maximum tolerances for fear and nausea.  Their physical needs also run at different rates and they are more or less likely to use ATMs.

No peep will go on a ride with a fear or nausea rating above his maximum tolerance.  This is a deal-breaker.  However, peeps will go on rides with fear or nausea below his minimum tolerances---these are just tie-breakers.  Also, the nausea tolerance really isn't important because all demographics tolerate more nausea than fear and it's hard to make a ride more sickening that scary without trying deliberately.  Thus, the most important tolerance is max fear, which determines which rides the peep finds attractive and which he will never go on.

This has 2 important implications.  First, the higher the ride's fear rating, the smaller its potential customer base because nobody with lower tolerance will ever go on it.  Second, the peeps who are willing to go on the scariest rides are also willing to go on tamer rides, so high-fear rides compete directly with low-fear rides for the same customers, at least down to about a fear rating of 3.0, below which only the meekest minority of peeps are interested.  This means that a park needs a solid base of low-medium fear rides to have a large enough capacity to provide enough customers to keep a high-fear ride busy.

So that's the general outline.  The specifics of the demographics are as follows:

*  Group Size:  1-6, average 2.34
*  Average money per adult:  $95.85
*  Least likely use an ATM
*  Average max fear tolerance:  5.7 (highest observed 7.4)
*  Average max nausea tolerance:  6.4

*  Group Size:  1-6, average 2.35
*  Average money per teen:  $83.58
*  2nd most-likely to use an ATM
*  Average max fear tolerance:  7.5 (highest observed 9.8)
*  Average max nausea tolerance:  7.9

*  Group Size:  2-6, average 3.68
*  Group Composition:  1-2 adult plus 1-4 kids + occasionally 1 teen.
*  Average money per family member:  $97.48
*  Most likely to use an ATM
*  Average max fear tolerance:  3.8 (highest observed 4.9)
*  Average max nausea tolerance:  5.9

On the fear and nausea tolerances, the distribution on either side of the average values is not uniform.  The lower half is fairly evenly spread over a large range of values, but the upper half is tightly packed just a few points above the average, with only a rare few individuals significantly higher than average.  For example, only about 20% of families have a max fear tolerance > 4.0 and only about 10% above 4.2 or so, rather less than expected.

There are many implications to this.  First is that families are the most important demographic.  They have the most money (both starting and from ATMs) and they come in the largest groups, so you get more ticket/food/drink/gift sales per group.  Second, assuming all your rides have more or less equal prestige, a ride with a fear rating of about 3.8 is a cash cow, attractive to about 80% or more of all peeps in the park.  Third, because only a small fraction of all coaster types allow kids on them at all, it's very important to keep their fear (even for woodies) about 3.8 (IOW less than "green") so as not to scare away most families (unless you already have enough family-friendly coasters).  Adults and teens will still flock to 3.8 fear coasters, too, so such rides do quite well.

Other trivia:  The adult demographic's stats are pretty much the average of the whole population.  However, building rides to this average (fear 5.7) is a bad idea because it automatically excludes all families, 1/2 the adults, and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the teens.  IOW, if the park has an even demographic distribution, such a ride will have a potential customer base of only about 20-25% of all peeps in the park, and it must compete for those few with all the rides with less fear.

That's enough of a wall-o-text for 1 post.  I hope you find this interesting reading.  There's much more to say about peeps, which I hope to add later.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 06:17 PM by Bullethead »
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Offline matt9537

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Re: (TUT) Your Average Customers
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 07:47 AM »
This is a great read with some very interesting data. Be very useful I think!
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Offline Bullethead

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Re: (TUT) Your Average Customers
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2017, 11:30 AM »
This is a great read with some very interesting data. Be very useful I think!

Thanks.  Yeah, doing this research forced me to re-evaluate what I considered to be good and desirable ride stats.  Fear is by far the most important, excitement is a distant second, and nausea is of only marginal importance.  This gets into peep decision-making, which is what I wanted to discuss next anyway, so let's get on with that.



1.  Peep Decision-Making in General
Peeps are constantly making new decisions, which means they frequently change their minds due to re-evaluations of their situations.  A lot of decisions are actually parts of chains of sequential decisions that each take into account different factors.  And many of these factors change over time, which is part of why peeps often change their minds.

Peeps make decisions based on what they know and their knowledge base is somewhat surprising.
  • Peeps know their own likes and dislikes, and how many are in their groups.  These determine what they'll consider doing, and groups of 5-6 peeps just won't consider going on rides that only have 4 seats per vehicle.
  • Peeps know the locations, EFN, and prestige of all rides, and they know the path layout and transport ride system of the park, so they can figure the most efficient route to rides and shops. 
  • Peeps don't initially know the locations and wares of any shops, but they can see them over a large radius, and remember where they are.
  • Peeps do NOT know the prices of any rides, shops, or facilities in the park until they get to the start of their queues, and promptly forget prices thus learned.
  • Peeps pay no attention to how much money they have left until they discover it's not enough to buy something, and this 1 discovery does not clue them in that they probably can't afford anything else, either.
The most basic peep decision is what to do next. They always have a choice of 5 options, the odds of which always add up to 100% so they're bound to decide on something.  The odds in favor of each of the 5 options are based on a variety of different factors which change over time, so at any given moment the peep is more likely to do 1 thing than another.  However, there's usually at least a small chance of the peep doing something else, which is why you see peeps going on rides instead of satisfying their seemingly urgent physical needs.  This appears to be all luck of the draw.

The 5 options for what to do next are as follows:
  • Satisfy a physical need for food, drink, toilet, or energy.  The lower the bar for a need, the higher the odds the peep will attend to it.
  • Satisfy a hard-wired need:  gift, priority pass, ATM.  It appears that the desire to do any of these things is assigned to some peeps but not others at the instant the peep is spawned.  Only a very few percent of peeps get the "traits" for priority passes and ATMs and only about 1/2 or so get the "trait" for wanting gifts.
  • Wander around.  The odds of this happening are always very low and it never lasts very long.  It might not actually be an independent result, but perhaps is due to a combination of deciding to use a certain type of shop or facility and not yet knowing where such a thing is.  I don't know yet.  Wandering also appears to happen just to fill the time remaining until the peep's next scheduled decision point, when a peep has no current destination.  This usually happens when a ride breaks down and peeps on the trains at the time are teleported to the ride exit.  It usually takes them a few seconds to decide what to do next, during which interval they're wandering.
  • Go home.  This seems to be based primarily on elapsed time and has nothing to do with the peep's remaining money.  The odds of going home start out very low but grow continuously until they become essentially a certainty.  Things that make the peep happy slow down the growth of the odds but never stop it, things that make the peep unhappy speed up the growth.  Because there's always a chance of going home, sometimes you'll see peeps leave a park almost immediately, or right after hitting an ATM.  Because it's primarily time-based, you'll see broke peeps (without the ATM "trait") roaming the park complaining for some time.
  • Go on a ride.  This is what happens if none of the above happen.  It's also the start of its own sequence of sub-decisions, which we'll discuss next.
NOTE:  Except for going home, no decisions are final.  It appears that peeps get the chance to make a new decision on what to do next every so often.  Apparently the result of the previous decision carries great weight so peeps often stick with their previous choices, but they can and do change their minds in midstream.  The most common example is to start walking towards a ride and then stop at a drink shop instead.

2.  Picking a Ride
Once a peep decides to go on a ride, he has to decide which one.  This results in a series of sub-decisions each taking different factors into account, as follows:

A.  Exclude Intolerable and Incompatible Rides
First, the peep eliminates from consideration all rides that exceed his max tolerances for fear and nausea.  Nausea really doesn't matter because all peeps have higher nausea tolerances than fear tolerances, and it's very hard to make a ride more sickening than scary.

Peeps also ignore rides they can't physically go on.  Families will ignore all coasters that don't allow kids to ride, even if they have family-friendly stats.  Groups of any demographic with 5-6 peeps will ignore rides that only have 4 seats per vehicle (spinning coaster, vintage cars, etc.) because groups never split up.

B.  Pick a Ride to Move Towards
This is probably the most complex decision in the game, taking into account the most factors, and probably some random element as well.  Things that definitely or probably go into this decision are:
  • Prestige.  This is one of the most heavily weighted factors here.  Prestige is a composite score made up mostly of the ride's excitement, duration, scenery, and (optionally) age.  There appear to be some breakpoints in the prestige spectrum, however.  The most important seems to be about 600-700 prestige.  Rides above this level seem to compete more or less evenly and absolutely trounce rides below this level.  However, rides with prestige above 1000 do seem to have have a bit more draw than a ride with 700-800, although this doesn't seem to be as major as the difference between a 500 and an 700 ride.
  • Travel time (including use of transport rides).  This is also very important.  A very short travel time will often trump a 2x prestige advantage.
  • Whether the ride is above the peep's MINIMUM tolerances for fear and/or nausea.  This happens but doesn't seem to be all that important compared to other factors like prestige and travel time.  Thus, adults and teens will flock to a low-fear Wendigo coaster with pimped-out scenery (and thus reasonably high prestige despite low excitement).
  • How many times the peep has already been on a given ride.  I'm not sure this is actually a factor because I've seen a number of peeps who only go on the same ride 5 or 6 times, but I've seen a lot more peeps who've gone on many different rides with few or no repeats, or alternate between a group of favorites.
  • Random element.  What happens in the end is probably similar to how a peep decides what to do next.  Each tolerable, compatible ride is given odds of being chosen and then peep rolls d100 to determine which is chosen.  The factors outlined above (and perhaps some others) probably set the odds for each ride.
Anyway, the peep eventually settles on a ride and starts moving towards it by the quickest route (maybe including transport rides).  He might change his mind en route but usually won't.  There are 2 important things to note about this decision:
  • Ride excitement rating isn't all that important, certainly less important than fear.  Excitement is used only as part of prestige, along with duration and scenery.  And prestige, while important to this decision, is only 1 of many factors involved.
  • The choice of which ride to head towards does NOT consider money or queue length.  Those things come into play later.
C.  Go/No-Go upon Arrival at Ride
Assuming the peep doesn't change his mind en route (and the ride doesn't break down before he gets there), the peep eventually arrives at the start of the queue.  Upon reaching this location, the peep makes a go/no-go decision on actually entering the queue or not.
  • Go:  The peep can afford the ride's ticket and the queue is not too long for the peep's tastes (and you don't have that bug where empty queues are thought to be too long).  Peeps vary greatly in their base tolerance for queue length--some will tolerate much longer waits than others.  Queue scenery increases the tolerance levels of all peeps, but there will still always be a few who will think the queue's too long even when it's half empty.  Can't please everybody.
  • No Go:  The peep can't afford the ride's ticket or the queue is too long, or even completely full.   If this happens, the peep will make another decision on what to do next, possibly with a few seconds of wandering beforehand.
NOTE:  Peeps are completely ignorant of ride (and shop) prices until they reach the start of the queue, and immediately forget how much that ride (or shop) costs once they go or no-go it.  Therefore, a ride's ticket price has ZERO effect on attracting peeps to rides---that's all determined by fear, nausea, prestige, travel distance, etc.  As a result, it does no good at all to lower a ride's price in hopes of attracting more customers.  You instead need to change its EFN and/or scenery and/or location to change its attractiveness to peeps.

Peep decisions about which shop to patronize work very differently and I'll probably talk about that next.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 01:37 PM by Bullethead »
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Offline Bullethead

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Re: (TUT) Your Average Customers
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2017, 04:55 PM »

This subject is somewhat vexing because there are several different processes at work that don't fit together all that consistently, and I haven't fully explored all of them.  But OTOH, that just means there's much room for further research :D .  So take this as a sort of survey that has spotted some general trends, take it with a grain of salt, and be prepared for substantial changes in this area.

One of the major issues with this is terminology.  The mechanics behind what peeps do in this area are driven either by a physical, time-based need, or a hardwired, semi-random need, both of which are strongly impacted by hard-wired preferences.  To cater to these various needs, the player has a wide range of shops (staffed), facilities (unstaffed shop-like objects), and path scenery (benches).  Problem is, these categories of game objects overlap the boundaries of game mechanics, with some "shops" serving hardwired needs (gift shops, info booths) and some "facilities" serving physical needs (toilets, 1st aid).  Because this post is about game mechanics, I prefer to talk in those terms.  Thus, instead of saying "shop" or "facility", which are ambiguous when it comes to the game mechanics, I shall refer to things dealing with physical needs as PNTs and things dealing with hardwired needs as HWTs.  But hopefully I can avoid using either term too often in what follows.  I'm mostly saying this to cue your mind to think in terms of game mechanics instead of PC's arbitrary division between "shops" and "facilities".

1.  Peep Physical vs. Hardwired Needs
There are 2 distinct types of needs:  physical and hard-wired.  Physical needs are food, drink, toilet, energy, and health..  All of these have status bars visible on a peep's info box.  Hard-wired needs are the desire to buy priority passes, use an ATM, or buy a gift.  These are all "PCgod-given traits" randomly assigned at various low chances to a peep at the instant of spawning in the Cave of Creation, but mostly not.  They have no bars so you never know which peep has these "traits" until you catch them in the act, although the gift-buying "trait" is sometimes revealed by thoughts along the lines of "I'm almost ready to buy a gift for my friend".

Physical needs for each demographic move at different rates.  Adults are cool with a park-wide ratio of 2 drinks, 1 food, and 1 restroom.  Teens have the same ratio but their needs for food and drink run faster than for adults, so if you have a high-fear area full of teens, you might want 3 drinks, 2 foods, and 1 restroom.  In areas full of families, you might want 2 drinks, 2 restrooms, and 1 food, but can get by with the adult mix.

The ratio of food, drink, and restrooms is complicated by some PNTs that fulfill multiple needs.  For examples, smoothies satisfy all of drink and some of food.  And then there's the whole vast, largely unexplored territory of "extras".  Putting chunks of fruit and whatnot in drinks also goes somewhat to satisfy the need for food.  Making food saltier increases the need for drinks.  Making food spicier increases the need for toilets, as does just drinking plain water.  Because I haven't done much research on extras, I won't discuss them further here.

And then there's the need for energy.  Peeps can be satisfy this free of charge by sitting on a bench, so if you have benches all over your park, you'll never sell a cup of coffee and not enough Gulpee Energy to be viable, especially considering the vendor's salary.  In general, it's better to spend $1000 once on lots of benches than it is to spend $150 every month on the salary of a coffee or energy drink vendor.

As to hardwired needs, only a very few percent of all peeps will ever use an ATM.  Of the few how do, most will be families, the rest teens.  Adult-only groups almost never use ATMs.  Priority Passes have a similarly small chance of happening although you can slightly increase the odds by increasing the number of priority queues.  There doesn't seem to be a significant demographic difference when it comes to buying priority passes.

And then there are the gifts. About 1/2 of all peeps have the "trait" to buy some sort of gift.  Most of those will get balloons, a somewhat lower number will get hats, and almost nobody will get a memento.  This is because of hardwired preferences that come along with the hardwired "trait" to want a gift to begin with. But hardwired preferences also affect PNTs, as discussed below.

2.  Hardwired Preferences
Regardless of the type of need, if there's a choice between multiple PNTs or HWTs to satisfy it, all peeps have hardwired preferences as to which specific PNT or HWT they want to patronize.  Some PNTs/HWTs have the field to themselves, like restrooms (a PNT) and ATMs (an HWT).  But when there's a choice, that choice is far from a fair fight.

A.,  Gift Preferences
As noted above, amongst the available gifts, there's a definite peep preference for balloons, then hats, then mementos.  I've never seen a peep who had more than 1 gift in his possession although I'm not ruling out the possibility that this happens sometimes.  As a general rule, assume that the portion of the peep population with the "trait" to want a gift will only buy one type.  So, if you want to sell gifts, start with a balloon shop.  If that's not enough, add a haberdasher.  But only really large parks can keep a memento dealer in business.

B.  Food and Drink
Just as with gifts, peeps have strong preferences for food and drink types.  They love burgers and hotdogs, water and slush, and pretty much hate everything else.  Peeps do NOT want a balanced diet nor menu choices.  There's a very slight gradient amongst the other food and drink PNTs behind the favorites listed above but it's at least an exponential falloff from one to the next.  Anything other than the 4 types of PNTs noted above is so far behind on the preference scale that they might as well not exist.  So they don't in my parks.  I only use the Holy 4 PNTs listed above.

Also, as mentioned above, benches totally undercut anything that sells energy.  Gulpee Energy is slightly preferred to coffee, so if you have benches everywhere, you'll only sell a few energy drinks and zero coffee, at least if there are other drinks available, and you don't place the coffee shop on a ride exit, which segues into the next topic.

A very important takeaway at this point is that food courts are in general a bad idea in PC.  It takes extreme attention to detail to make them half-way work.  It's better to have a loose string of individual PNTs (of the preferred types, of course) evenly scattered all through the park.  This is because the rate of needing drink is significantly higher than, but not in phase with, the need for food and toilets. Thus, peeps rarely need to satisfy more than 1 of these needs at a time.  So they'll probably come into a food court needing a drink, and would rather die of thirst than buy a coffee if that's all that has an open queue.  So they buy a water or slush and leave towards some ride.  But they get hungry en route so it's back to the food court, where they'd rather starve than buy anything but a burger or hotdog.  Then they leave heading towards a ride but now they have to empty their bladder back at the food court.  Thus, food courts tend to be choked with peeps at the expense of your rides, and only a few shops in the food court will do enough business to justify their existence unless you have multiple examples of the preferred types.

3  Location, Location, Location
Putting PNTs immediately adjacent to the exits of rides greatly increases their appeal.  Putting them next to ride entrances has somewhat the same effect only not as strong.  But exploiting location is the only way you'll ever sell coffee or donuts unless you simply have no other options available, not only as regards choices of food and drink but also no benches.

4.  1st Aid
Peeps have a status bar for health but it works differently from other physical needs.  It seems to decrease only when peeps go on rides with nausea above 5.0 (and decreases faster the greater the nausea rating) and then increases again very slowly over time so long as the peep is not again exposed to such sickening rides.  When health gets below a certain level, they start puking faster than routine janitorial sweeps can cope with, so many peeps start complaining about puke.

This is where the 1st Aid PNTs come in.  Peeps who like sickening rides (and most do) will keep riding them until they puke.  However, if you have a 1st Aid near the ride's exit, they'll usually go in there to reset their health bar before they reach the stage of puking, unless the ride is just stupidly nauseating.  However, 1st Aids are pretty much useless everywhere else in the park.  Peeps don't suffer routine injuries and illnesses, only nausea, so unless placed near something that causes nausea, the 1st Aid won't get any business.

NOTE:  It is sometimes reported that placing bins at the exits of nauseating rides will causes peeps to puke in them instead of on the path.  I have never seen this happen--all puke goes on the path even with several bins available.  It's still a good idea to put bins at ride exits, however, because peeps often discard litter as soon as they get off a ride.

« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 05:06 AM by Bullethead »
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